Houston's historic NBA title sweep

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The Independent Online
Basketball

The Houston Rockets clinched their second successive National Association championship - pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 113- 101 home defeat of Orlando Magic.

The result of Wednesday night's game gave the Rockets a 4-0 sweep of the best-of-seven series as their Nigerian-born centre, Hakeem Olajuwon, claimed 35 points and the distinction of being the leading scorer in every game of the finals.

Houston, who beat the teams with the three best records in the league to reach the finals, became only the sixth team in the game's history to enjoy a clean sweep of finals victories.

Olajuwon, the Most Valuable Player of the finals for the second successive year, completely overshadowed Orlando's Shaquille O'Neal and led all scorers in every game.

Jubilant fans took to calling America's fourth most populous city "Twoston," with thousands jamming the city's Richmond Avenue strip of bars and nightclubs for a noisy celebration into the early hours of the morning after.

As with last year's success, the post-championship revelry was generally orderly and there were only a small number of arrests for drunkenness.

"This means respect for Houston," shouted one fan after the game. It appeared that Houston felt denied that respect after last year's NBA finals when the Rockets had won the city's first major sports title with their 4-3 defeat of the New York Knicks.

The city smarted from perceived snubs by the national media, including a suggestion by some sportswriters that the Rockets' championship was a fluke, made possible by the premature retirement of Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan.

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